By Rachel La Corte
The Associated Press
OLYMPIA — Broad changes to gun policy and what could be the first carbon tax in the nation are among the ballot measures being decided by Washington voters, who also will decide dozens of races that span congressional seats to state legislative representation.
The crowded ballot for Tuesday’s election includes four initiatives, 10 congressional races, a U.S. Senate seat and more than 100 legislative contests.
While voters began receiving their ballots in the mail weeks ago, Tuesday is the last day to get them in or postmarked.
In some of the more competitive races, results might not be known for days as counties update vote counts throughout the week.
Money has poured into the state against Initiative 1631, which would charge large carbon emitters fees on fossil fuels used or sold in the state or electricity generated within the state starting in 2020.
Opponents have raised more than $31 million, mostly from oil companies, a state record for statewide initiatives.
Voters also will decide the fate of I-1639, which toughens background checks for people buying semi-automatic rifles, increases the age limit to 21 for buyers of those guns and adds firearm storage provisions.
Initiative 1634, backed by the soda industry, would prohibit local governments from imposing new taxes on soda or grocery items.
Initiative 940 is a measure designed to improve police training in de-escalation tactics and eliminate a requirement that prosecutors prove officers acted with malice to get a conviction in negligent shootings.
Among the congressional races, the hotly contested open seat in the 8th Congressional District has been one of the costliest in the nation as Democrats see a potential pickup that could help determine control of the U.S. House.
Dr. Kim Schrier, a Democrat and pediatrician, and Republican Dino Rossi, a former state senator who had previous unsuccessful runs for governor and the U.S. Senate, are vying to replace Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, who is retiring after more than a decade.
Incumbents are seeking re-election in the other nine U.S. House races, though national attention is focused on three key races including the 8th.
In the 5th Congressional District, Republican incumbent Cathy McMorris Rodgers faces Democrat Lisa Brown, a former chancellor of Washington State University who previously served as majority leader in the state Senate.
In the 3rd Congressional District, Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler is facing a strong challenge from Democrat Carolyn Long, a political science professor at Washington State University’s campus in Vancouver, Wash.
In the race for U.S. Senate, former state GOP chairwoman Susan Hutchison is challenging Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell, a three-term incumbent.
All 98 seats in the state House are up for election, and voters will decide 25 of the Senate’s 49 seats.
While Democrats hold most statewide offices in Washington, the political split in the Legislature is much narrower: Democrats currently hold a one-seat advantage in the Senate and a two-seat advantage in the House.
Democrats are hoping to expand their margin, especially after August’s primary showed several Republican incumbents and Republican candidates in open seats trailing their Democratic opponents, even in some districts that were previously considered safe GOP districts.
Supreme Court Justices Susan Owens and Sheryl Gordon McCloud are unopposed.
Their opponents were stripped from the ballot after judges ruled they were ineligible to hold the seats because they both had been disbarred.
Only Justice Steven Gonzalez, a member of the court since 2012, has an opponent, Bellevue attorney Nathan Choi.
Choi has not raised any money and has posted videos about the “Deep State” and other conspiracy theories on his campaign webpage.